Liberty remains a team while facing adversity
November 1, 2012
By Christina Corrales-Toy
The Liberty High School football team went into the season believing in the acronym TEAM — together everyone achieves more.
It was the motto that drove and motivated a young, thin-in-numbers Patriots squad.
And even though the team finished its season with a 3-6 record and won’t be going to the playoffs, the acronym was truer than the team could have ever imagined.
“They picked as their motto, the acronym TEAM, and it’s really a cliché because everyone uses it,” Liberty coach Steve Valach said. “But the team really stood behind it and that’s who we are. We are going to be a team.”
The 2012 Patriots faced adversity throughout the season. Liberty was plagued by injuries, a tough predicament for an already small squad. While it didn’t translate to wins for the Patriots, it did bring the team together, Valach said.
“It’s about us sticking together, playing together and fighting together, and we’ve done that,” he said.
The Patriots began the second half of the season on a high note, when they crushed Sammamish, 50-7, Oct. 5.
Liberty put together a formidable rushing attack against the Totems, running for more than 375 yards. Tynan Gilmore and Russell Boston each had two rushing touchdowns in the game.
There wasn’t much offense between Liberty and Mercer Island when the two battled Oct. 12.
Both teams were able to move the ball, but getting it into the end zone wasn’t so easy. Ultimately, Mercer Island was the only one to reach the end zone as Liberty fell to the Islanders, 7-3. Liberty’s only points came from a second-half field goal by kicker Josh Johnson.
With just two games left in the season, Liberty was faced with a difficult task — going up against the top two 3A teams in the state in Bellevue and Mount Si.
While the Patriots fell to Bellevue, 49-11, they were the first team in the state to put up more than 10 points on the Wolverines this season, behind a Johnson field goal and a score by Gilmore, as well as a 2-point conversion.
The Patriots’ regular-season play ended Oct. 26, after they lost to Mount Si, 35-7. It was a gutsy performance by Gilmore, who stepped into the quarterback position due to injuries. Gilmore, a senior leader, did it all for the Patriots this season. Whether it was scoring, defense or special teams, Gilmore was right there making an impact.
It would have been nice to see more wins in the season, Valach said, but it was a group of kids that he truly enjoyed coaching.
“We haven’t won, but what you want is you want them to battle and you want them to stay coachable and stay together, and they’ve done that,” he said. “They made it pretty fun to coach.”
The Patriots will play one last game when they host Bishop Blanchet in a KingCo/Metro crossover game at 7 p.m. Nov. 2.